When my nephew, Jared, was a little bitty thing, he would get all over his brother with a consistent reminder, “It’s not all about you, Jacob!”
The boldness of his approach and the intensity behind his words always made me smile, but the clear truth behind his appeal has stuck with me since the first time it rolled out of his mouth.
The key to strength in any relationship points back to whether the two parties are going to be self-centered or other-centered. This is true with friends, co-workers, all formulas of family relationships and especially in marriage.
“It’s not all about you” was the focus of a recent article in Relevant magazine, “Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness.”
An excerpt from the article by Debra K. Fileta says:
“Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s not even about you. It’s about love — which is something we choose to give time and time again. It’s about sacrifice, serving, giving, forgiving — and then doing it all over again. … Often, we’re choosing ‘personal happiness’ over real commitment, over real love.
“They say marriage teaches you more about selflessness than you ever wanted to know. … Because at the heart of it, real love is all about sacrifice. About the giving of yourself, in ways big and small.”
It’s about sacrifice
I agree with Fileta. Real love truly is all about sacrifice.
The seasons where my husband, Jason, and I focus sacrificially on each other at the same time bring such great blessings and richness to our relationship.
When one or the other decides to be less other-centered and more self-centered, frustrations mount and life is more strained.
And the times we have decided to focus on ourselves rather than the other — simultaneously — it basically led to confusion, insecurity, disappointment and pain.
Being married long enough to have a variety of seasons (almost 19 years) also has given us the opportunity to truly start learning and growing in the process. And we both agree we prefer the sacrificial model hands down.
I’m not sure I can say it is easy. Many who are farther down the path tell me it does become more seamless, so I’m trusting that is the case.
I do know that putting Jason’s needs before my own and sacrificing for him in big ways and small ways brings tremendous fulfillment and allows me to demonstrate real love, true love.
And I learned through the precious five and a half years we fought alongside our niece, Belle, in her cancer journey that the purity of the love received in return is worth all the pouring of yourself into another.
It seems so obvious to me now but it took years for me to get to this point. I’m not sure why because we were given the ultimate model of sacrificial love to follow — Jesus Christ.
It seems silly to not figure it out sooner. The example is so powerful.
But if you, like me, struggle to focus entirely on Jesus, then how much more will we struggle with giving of ourselves to ordinary humans?
My friend and co-worker, Grace Thornton, reminds me often that we are to desire God first, before ourselves and anyone or anything else. And from that place we are to let our lives flow outward.
“His heart is for us to know Him,” Grace says, “making that the entire goal of our life and then trusting Him no matter what happens.”
Gary Hardin, hopediscovered.com
Have you ever felt stuck?
You might feel that way now. You need money but it’s not there. You need health but it isn’t there. Your problems feel overwhelming and you aren’t sure you have what it takes to make it through. It’s like your hands are tied. You are nursing your wounds. You just feel beat up and it appears to you that you have no way out.
The greatest temptation in these situations is to give up. You know, throw in the towel and quit. But God calls us to refuse this temptation … (and) to respond forcefully. … Second Timothy 1:7 shows us how to do this.
It was written by a New Testament missionary — Paul. At the time Paul was in prison. He definitely saw no way out. But Paul did not cave in. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit he wrote some words that help us today.
- When we see no way out, God gives us courage. That’s the opposite of the word “timidity” in the verse. Instead of being intimidated by your challenges face them with courage that comes from God. How is this possible? Isaiah 41:10 answers that question: “Do not fear, for I am with you.” We can be courageous because God is with us. What a difference His presence makes.
- Face your challenges in Jesus’ power. … Maybe you feel like a powerless victim. No pile of bills, no insult, no hurt, no problem or no failure is too big for Jesus to handle.
- Keep on loving. … Often the problems and challenges we face are because someone made bad choices that affect us negatively. A co-worker comes to work late habitually and you are left to catch up the slack. A committee member doesn’t do what he or she promised and you end up cleaning the mess. Someone impulsively spoke harsh words to you and you want to strike back. … In situations like these choose to love everyone. Look for ways to bless and help people.
- Stay on course and keep going. Notice the last phrase of 2 Timothy 1:7: “of self-discipline.” The word carries the idea of self-control or a cool head or a sound mind. So don’t allow fatigue and all the headaches you face to stop you. When you feel knocked down then get up. Don’t run from your problems. Stay on course. Conquer that temptation to quit.
2 Timothy 1:7 — “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
“Sin is deep. It is real. It destroys. It deceives. May this be an opportunity for all of us to examine our own hearts and beg God for the mercy and forgiveness we all need.”
(Billy Graham’s grandson) on his recent firing from Willow Creek Presbyterian Church, Winter Springs, Florida, following admission of an “inappropriate relationship” prior to the affair that led him to resign as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2015.
“Evil is strategic. It gets us mired in good so we miss the better, maybe the main, thing. … Know your life stage (and your investment potential), draw your boundaries (develop accountability) and remember that everything is about your choice. … Behavior change is always a choice. … Pray for clarity and the internal will to create the space you need.”
Social work instructor
“The greatest gift that current leaders can leave is a next generation of leaders who can take the organization to even greater heights.”
An excerpt from the endorsement for Russ Crosson’s book “What Makes a Leader Great” by Bill Williams, CEO, The National Christian Foundation
Russ Crosson, president and CEO
Ronald Blue & Co.
In a hurry up world, we look for immediate results. However, God’s Word says “in due season.” #verseoftheday
Restless places are the perfect place to surrender and let God teach us to desire Him.
An expositor doesn’t merely preach from a text or on a text. An expositor preaches the text.